Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Mary Margaret Olohan.
HOLLYWOOD, FL Fed up with the slew of liberal reporters launching partisan questions at Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Florida Republicans determined ahead of time that the state's big election year summit would be "invite only"
"I'm not going to have a bunch of left-wing media asking our primary candidates a bunch of gotcha questions,"
DeSantis said to a packed crowd in Saturday morning remarks at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Reporters from outlets like The Daily Wire, The Washington Free Beacon, Americano Media, Florida's Voice were invited to attend the event, which featured debates moderated by radio host Mark Levin and commentators Dave Rubin and Lisa Boothe, as well as remarks from DeSantis, the Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, and other high profile conservatives.
In a surprise move, DeSantis moderated the morning debates with Levin, asking candidates which of the Supreme Court justices they favored the most and their thoughts on Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Each candidate who participated in the summit was required to have polled at 5% or greater in the Republican Party of Florida poll of each respective primary race or raised (and publicly reported) at least $100,000 by July 13.
Politico's Matt Dixon tweeted a private list of press approved for the event, sparking criticism from reporters who were not invited, but wished to attend.
"It's funny that the very reporters who were uninterested in the Sunshine Summit were the same ones huddled in a corner across from the entrance hoping for a peek,"
campaign spokesman Dave Abrams told The Daily Wire.
"We aren't bothered by their tantrums - in fact it validates our presumption that fair coverage was never a thought for them,"
His reference to reporters "huddled"
outside the event likely referred to the Washington Post's Dave Weigel and the Palm Beach Post's Stephanay Metat, who came to the summit without an invite.
In a cafe outside the security entrance to the event, Weigel shared with The Daily Wire that he was interested in observing the dynamic of a Republican debate moderated by DeSantis-selected conservative moderators.
This was for a story he was working on, Weigel explained, examining how campaigns on both sides of the aisle "are taking a more hands off approach to legacy media this cycle than before, as seen through some debates."
Weigel said he was not looking to write a "how dare they"
story, but rather a "what does this mean"
piece, and stressed that "if there's a good faith relationship between the press and the people talking, even if the people disagree, having the record is important and having access to the record is important."
Protestations from reporters at liberal outlets also prompted DeSantis' Press Secretary Christina Pushaw to note on social media that the "invite only"
move was aimed at media who "shamelessly act like Democrat activists, then cry when they're treated as such."
"It has come to my attention that some liberal media activists are mad because they aren't allowed into the Sunshine Summit this weekend,"
Pushaw said on Twitter. "My message to them is to try crying about it. Then go to kickboxing and have a margarita. And write the same hit piece you were gonna write anyway."
Former Miami Herald reporter Ben Cornack, who now works for the Baltimore Banner, called a leaked list of reporters attending the event a "revealing list,"
suggesting that those reporters on the list should "rethink whether"
they are doing their jobs.
"When what is arguably the most powerful apparatus in Florida selects you as someone they want covering their fun parties, but doesn't allow reporters that write things they don't approve of, it's time to rethink whether you're doing your job,"
he said. "My two cents."